Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Abbas J. Ali
Chapter 14: Work ethics in GCC countries: current challenges and the road ahead
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) poses a unique case in the Muslim world (see Table 14.1 for some demographic and economic indicators). A group of six strategically located countries in the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – controls large amounts of wealth and access to natural resources (EIU, 2009). Those countries carry large reserves of oil and gas that have served their development agendas for the past several decades. The wealth of the GCC countries has created significant transformations in their economic and social structures. Local populations have become significantly wealthier, which has subsequently led to having a significant impact on their work attitudes and behaviors. This also means that scores of foreign labor, both at low-skill and high-skill levels, have been increasingly utilized at phenomenal rates. Gradually, local populations have exited the labor market in many industries preferring to concentrate on work in specific sectors (such as in the service sector or in the public domain, and so on). When considering the history of the GCC countries, one can note the vast transformations. At the turn of the twentieth century, these countries were dispersed communities that depended on agriculture, pearl diving and light trade for their livelihoods. Early Arabs had a low appreciation for craftsmanship and artisan work (Issawi, 1950) preferring instead involvement in trade and commercial activities. The Bedouin environment underscored the importance of communal cohesion.
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